Richard McPherson, Landscape Architect

by, Richard McPherson, Landscape Architect

Our local climate is perfect for a long season of garden use and outdoor entertaining. We are fortunate that garden spaces can be created to accommodate different uses that invite us to spend more time outside in warm weather. Throwing open the doors and moving indoors and out, however, can be hampered by steps, which disrupt the flow and can create a hazard.

Decks outdoor living

Psychologically, steps may lessen the desire to entertain or spend time outdoors, where it begins to feel like an effort to constantly walk up and down stairs to take food, beverages or other items back and forth.

Also, it is my own experience that when guests walk outdoors there is a moment of orientation as people step out the door. They are often drawn to what they see in the garden, which can distract them from the immediacy of an abrupt change in level.

Use a Deck to Enhance Indoor/Outdoor Flow

For homes that sit above ground level, one idea for enhancing the ease of movement is to build a deck at grade with the interior floor, which was its original intention.

A deck at floor level is most useful for activities for which there is a lot of walking back and forth indoor and out, such as for BBQ’ing, dining or entertaining. Or perhaps you want to step out your door with a cup of coffee and a book…or your laptop. (Electronics use has quickly become a primary outdoor pastime. During the day it’s nice to have easy access to the garden for sitting with a laptop, rather than sitting at the kitchen table.)

Use a Deck to Enhance Indoor/Outdoor Flow

Most decks pictured here originally had a small wood landing and steps immediately outside the door. As you walked out the door you immediately had to look down to navigate the steps, or face stumbling. I suggested to these clients that they would likely use the garden more if the primary entertaining area was at the level of the interior floor. Though it never occurred to the garden owners to have a deck or spacious landing, all were pleased with the results.

Use a Deck to Enhance Indoor/Outdoor Flow

A deck will cost more than a patio, but this is more than offset by the convenience and fact that the garden would likely be more functional.

Until about 10 years ago most decks were redwood. In recent years hardwoods and composite materials have become the norm, being more durable and long-lasting.

See more ideas on my website and Pinterest site:

Richard McPherson on Pinterest

Richard McPherson

Landscape Architect

(415) 290-0987


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